Ten Things You Should Know: Wood Memorial
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
1) The Wood Memorial is a race restricted to 3-year-olds run at Aqueduct Racetrack in Jamaica, New York, in the borough of Queens. It is run at a distance of 1 1/8 miles. This year’s edition is part of the Kentucky Derby qualifying system with points being awarded to the top four finishers.
2) The race was run for the first time in 1926 and is among the oldest of the current Kentucky Derby prep races. Gallant Fox was the first colt to win the Wood and Kentucky Derby in 1930.
4) Three of the last four Wood runners who also won the Kentucky Derby finished second: Go for Gin (1994), Monarchos (2001), and Funny Cide (2004). The last time a colt won both races came in 2000 with Fusaichi Pegasus.
5) Since 1952, 15% of horses finishing in the top three in the Wood went on to do the same in the Kentucky Derby. During that same period, 11 colts who finished in the top three won the Kentucky Derby.
6) Five eventual Triple Crown winners have run in the Wood. Gallant Fox (1930), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), and Seattle Slew (1977) all won the Wood. In 1973, Secretariat finished third behind Angle Light (his stablemate) and Sham.
7) One of the most impressive Wood winners in history was Bellamy Road, who in 2005 trounced his competition by 17 1/2 lengths and set the current stakes record of 1:47.1. Bellamy Road finished seventh as the favorite in that year’s Derby.
8) Since 2000, four winners of the Wood did not start in the Kentucky Derby: Buddha (2002), I Want Revenge (2009) and Eskendereya (2010), Toby’s Corner (2011). Buddha and I Want Revenge were entered but scratched from the race on Derby day due to injury.
9) Trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons won seven runnings of the Wood. His first victory came in 1930 with Gallant Fox and the last in 1957 with Bold Ruler, sire of Secretariat. Fitzsimmons won four straight from 1936 to 1939.
10) From 1944 to 1958, Jockey Eddie Arcaro won nine editions of the Wood Memorial. The jockey with second highest total wins is Angel Cordero, Jr. with four.